The Club has met on the Basingstoke Canal at Colt Hill each summer since it was formed in 1987. In 1994 a half acre small holding between the canal and the public car park at Colt Hill came up for sale. With a mixture of grants and loans from the Hampshire Playing Fields Association and from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council the Club was able to purchase this land a year later. This was the start of the dream and three years paying back loans.
Over the next five years a series of possible schemes were started, though none came to fruition:
- a planning application to put a steel container on the land was refused
- a palatial scheme including a bridge over the canal was drawn up and dropped
- a scheme for a small canoe store and public conveniences was almost submitted for planning in 2000
During this period the Club was criticized about the dilapidated appearance of the site; but when a dangerous old corrugated iron barn was pulled down the Club was informed that planning approval should have been sought. Fortunately a loophole in the law exempting agricultural buildings of a certain age was found.
It was not until autumn 2005 that interest in a club house started to grow again. The prospect of significant funding from the Sport England Community Club Development Programme (CCDP) was a real incentive. But at a more practical level it was the fact that Canoe England had a framework agreement with S&P Architects that was crucial. This gave the Club access to a firm of architects who really understood sporting and leisure facilities at a price that was just about achievable. A preliminary set of plans were prepared and agreed by the whole Club at an extraordinary general meeting.
A planning application was finally submitted in 2008 and planning approval was granted in June of that year. It took the best part of three years to discharge the planning conditions; but those that needed to be discharged before development work could start were discharged in 2011. Further details of the construction process can be found in the construction blog.
Phase 1 of the Clubhouse (the shell) was constructed in 2014 and opened on 28 March 2015.